New England Patriots at Carolina Panthers Betting Preview

The Panthers have proven to be a streaky team so far this season. They started the year with three straight wins and then suffered four straight losses before finally ending that slump with a 19-13 win at Atlanta last Sunday. Is another winning stretch going to start when New England visits for NFL Week 9 picks

The Patriots are an OT loss to Dallas away from coming into this game on a four-game win streak of their own. New England cruised out Los Angeles last week and picked up a 27-24 win with betting odds having the Patriots +3.5 underdogs. Bovada and BetUS have New England as -3.5 favorites in this week’s matchup. 

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Patriots Offense Finding Their Stride 

New England’s defense is never really their problem with Bill Belichick manning the helm, but now it looks like the Patriots have an equally potent offense. The Pat’s have rattled off 25 or more points in four straight games, and it looks like rookie QB Mac Jones only gets better each week. 

Granted, Jones was just 18/35 for 217 yards with 0 TD vs. the Chargers, but he also went a 2nd straight game without an INT after throwing six in four games prior. Jones faces a Carolina defense that somewhat astonishingly ranks 2nd in the league 188.9 ypg heading into Week 9 NFL picks. 

What has really fueled New England to cover the betting lines in the last two games has been their running game. Damien Harris ran for 106 yards and 2 TD on just 14 carries in the 54-13 win over the Jets in NFL Week 7 and followed that up with 80 yards and a score vs. the Chargers. The Panthers are also pretty stingy vs. the run, too, though, giving up 106.8 (13th).  

Carolina Can’t Be Trusted Yet

The Panthers were able to get a 19-13 win at Atlanta last week even while being +2.5 underdogs in the betting lines. The Panthers got that victory by riding the running game to a season-high 203 yards on 47 carries, with rookie Chuba Hubbard leading the way with 82 on the ground. 

We should see the Panthers attack the ground to try and cover the betting odds again on Sunday as Sam Darnold was knocked out late in the Falcons game with a concussion. Darnold has been limited in practice this week, which would open the door for P.J. Walker to make his second career start. That’s one of the huge reasons sportsbooks have Carolina as underdogs in the betting lines this week. 

Another reason why Matt Rhule and Joe Brady could devise a game plan that is more run-centric vs. the Patriots is because RB Christian McCaffrey (hamstring) gets closer to returning every week. If Walker starts at QB, having McCaffrey to check down to out of the backfield would be a huge asset. 

The New England defense did a decent job of holding Chargers QB Justin Herbert to an 18/35, 223-yard passing day with 2 TD and 2 INT. LAC did run for 163 yards vs. the Patriots, though, which is yet another reason Carolina is going to be focused on running the ball. 

Patriots at Panthers Pick 

The Patriots are 3-0 on the road this season, and they’ve been favored in two of those against the Jets (25-6) and Texans (25-22). The Panthers would have some value here if their QB situation was a little more stable, but ultimately we’ve got Belichick likely against another inexperienced QB in Walker. 

Even if Darnold starts, it was Belichick’s defense that had him “seeing ghosts” in a Patriots/Jets game back in 2019. 

Pick: Patriots -3.5

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